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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Social media

Twitter is an online micro-blogging platform that enables you to post short updates with images and videos attached. The social network was launched in 2006 and has more than 300 million monthly active users around the world.

Twitter users share their thoughts, news, real-time information and jokes in 140 characters of text or less.

The most successful Twitter users don't just broadcast messages. They engage with other Twitter users by asking and responding to questions, sharing interesting links and monitoring what people say about them.

Businesses use Twitter to engage audiences within their sector; not only posting information about themselves but encouraging discussion, gathering useful feedback about products or services and offering helpful customer service.

Twitter's unique language

Over the years, Twitter users have established their own language to make the most out of the 140 character limit on each tweet.

  • Use the @ symbol and a user name to mention another person or business in a tweet - ie @marketingdonut. When you do this, they'll see a notification that they've been mentioned. Keep in mind that messages sent this way are still public.
  • You can also retweet (RT) messages to rebroadcast a tweet to everyone following you. Retweeting can be a good way of building connections and relationships.
  • If you want to save someone's tweet for later, you can like it using the heart symbol below the message.
  • A topic with a hash symbol (#) at the start is known as a hashtag. Twitter hashtags like #followfriday help spread information on Twitter while also helping to organise it. Hashtags are regularly used around industries and sectors, events and breaking news stories, and around brand campaigns.

Twitter can seem confusing when you first start using it. The secret is to give it a proper go, and to give it some time. The more you do it, the more you'll understand what works for you.

Building a Twitter following

Twitter is all about the connections you can make - who you follow, and who's following you. Don't get too fixated on the number of followers you have. It's more important to build a network of people and other businesses who are relevant.

To establish a successful community on Twitter, you have to build credibility in your niche. Through the content you share and the discussions you take part in, you are developing a reputation as a trusted source of information. Many businesses aim to become an expert in a particular subject matter on Twitter and they do this by sharing content and insight around a topic.

You won't succeed in building your Twitter community by pushing out one-way marketing messages about your product. Instead ask your followers questions, be personal and engage with people naturally.

Using Twitter for customer service

Many customers also use Twitter as a quick and easy way to complain about a business. To make sure you spot any complaints, check your Notifications regularly to see if anyone has tagged or retweeted you and do a brand search every day by simply typing your company name into Twitter search.

If you find a comment about your business, respond as quickly as possible. If it's positive, then great! Share the feedback with your followers. If it's negative, then get back to the customer quickly. Try to take the situation offline as soon as possible by offering to call or email them to sort out the issue. By doing this, you will show other customers that you take complaints seriously.